patient safety Isabelle Desjardins

Isabelle Desjardins, MD, is chief medical officer at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

National Patient Safety Awareness Week is the time to pause and recognize that patients, families, and patient safety are central to everything we do.

We come to our roles in health care by different paths, but we all share the common goal of helping others. Our intention in the work that we do, or the care we give, is to always provide the safest, highest quality care for our community.

Patient safety is more than just a phrase… it’s a commitment.

Our actions, large and small, have a very real impact on the lives of others.

Sometimes the most important thing we can do to maintain patient safety is simply to listen carefully to a patient, family member or co-worker’s concerns. We must be mindful that even routine actions such as hand washing, or keeping our work spaces clean and orderly, have a very real impact on the patients and families we serve.

This year we have seen a large incidence of flu. This makes me think about the importance of infection prevention as it relates to patient safety. Again, actions like always washing hands, or getting a flu shot, make a difference between a safe vs. unsafe environment for our patients. As the saying goes – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Our commitment to quality and safety means we always strive to be better.

It is important to regularly reflect on the work we do and ask ourselves: Is there something we could be doing better? Is there something we need to make safer?  Throughout the year we hear all of your concerns around patient safety and we value each and every one of you for speaking up.

Individual employees and teams from across this organization have been recognized throughout the year with Good Catch Awards for reporting safety concerns. These reports resulted in important systems enhancements. Some of these have even generated national changes and improvements! It isn’t possible to give this award to everyone who has made a difference by taking the time and effort to help make our system safer for patients – so I take the opportunity now to say thank you for all you do to keep patients safe and free from preventable harm.

Isabelle Desjardins, MD, is chief medical officer at the University of Vermont Medical Center. 

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